Prior to showing off the new models, which are the Valence endurance road bike (above) and Threshold carbon cyclocross bike – plus some updates to their CRR race bike – Norco gave us an overview of their carbon technology. Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version:
Norco owns all of the molds and uses only their designs, no open molds, and design is done with 3D modeling to pre-test designs before building a mold. The mold is carved out of metal, and the prepreg carbon ranges from 24T to 40T depending on model. A carbon bike uses between 200 and 250 individual pieces of carbon fiber. They use a HTR (High Toughness Resin) in all of their carbon frames, which improves impact resistance and gives their bikes a longer lifespan. On the inside, the higher end bikes use EPS (Ethyle Poly-Styrene) mandrels to keep the insides of the tubes smooth. Any ridges on the inside can become stress risers, and the mandrels prevent that. They also use a thermoplastic mesh wrapped around the EPS mandrel that gets embedded into the frames. This prevents cracks from spreading – like Rip Stop – helping keep the frame intact in the event of damage.
From the myriad BB standards, they chose BB30 because they say it’s easy to use and very stiff. In their tests, the cranks have a larger impact on overall system stiffness than the frame, so choosing the right BB system is critical to the bike’s performance.
OK, on to the bikes…
2012 NORCO VALENCE
The Valence is an endurance road bike, available with four carbon fiber frames ranging from $5,399 for Ultegra Di2 down to $1,939. The frame has an oversized headtube, downtube and BB section, which gives it a high performance pedaling platform like their race bikes, but the ARC (Applied Road Compliance) stays build in compliance with an arc’d shape that flex slightly.
Norco says the initial prototypes actually ended up being too stiff, mostly from the fork, so they redesigned the fork and slimmed down the front triangle slightly.
Compared to their race bike, the headtube is a bit taller and the chainstays are a bit longer, and reach/stack progress with the size of the bike. On the smallest and largest sizes, the seat tube angle is altered, too, to keep the reach within reasonable parameters. The result is a bike that’s built to go fast but be comfortable over the long haul, perfect for Gran Fondo and Century riders. The fork is custom just for this bike and has a 49mm offset, and all models use a full carbon tapered fork. The top two Valence models use the EPS/TPM build with 40T carbon, the 2 and 3 don’t have the fancy build with EPS/TPM and use a mix of 24T/30T carbon. Frame weights are just under 1000g Di2 and 1, and about 1250g for 2/3.
Carbon molded headset cups eliminates metal to save weight, and the downtube continues through the BB into the chainstays. The top tube is tapered to add a bit more compliance, and the seatpost is 27.2 to add just a bit more flex. The frame has hidden fender mounts so you can add them if you want, but they’re not super obvious.
The mounts are not designed for a rack. The bike will come with 25c tires, but the brake placement and bridge is designed to offer lots of clearance if you want to run a fatter tire.
The Valence Alloy carries over a lot of the design of the carbon model in a double butted 7005 alloy frame. Custom hydroformed downtube to mimic the shapes of the carbon frame and the tapered headset cups are integrated into the frame. Seatstays are arc’d, too, and this frame will allow for both racks and fenders. Valence 1 and 2 get a carbon bladed fork (alloy steerer).
The alloy models also have a women’s counterpart for each spec level called the Valence Forma with a few tweaks (taller HT, shorter top tube) to fit the female form better. Prices range from $859 to $1,299.
2012 NORCO CRR ROAD BIKE
The CRR LE is a new top of the line model uses a new, higher grade HM 40T carbon that’s their lightest road frame ever at about 950g (56), and BB30 now carries all the way down the line. They’ve also done away with ISP (integrated seatpost) frames and gone with 31.6 seatposts across the range, which should make travel a bit easier while keeping everything plenty stiff.
2012 NORCO THRESHOLD CYCLOCROSS BIKE
The Threshold is their new carbon fiber cyclocross platform that they showed as a prototype at Sea Otter. For 2012, they’ll offer three models. The frame is a mostly HM 30T carbon with a bit of 24T mixed in with their HTR (High Toughness Resin) and TPM across the range. Frame weights are about 1250g.
UPDATE: There’s a second cable guide further down the seatstay, they just didn’t have it zip-tied in. I think they received some of these bikes just before Crankworx and were put together quickly, not perfectly. Certainly, you could (and should) use both cable guides and trim it more than shown above.
They have a molded carbon headset cup with full carbon tapered form and integrated brake hanger to eliminate chatter. The top tube is tapered and ergo shaped to add a bit of compliance and make it more comfortable to shoulder. The seatstays are fairly narrow to eat up a bit of the bumps, and both stays offer plenty of clearance. Behind the BB, there’s no shelf to collect mud, and they’ve built in a fender mount. The fork crown is massive with a ridged design that looks super stiff.
The front derailleur housing runs externally along the bottom of the downtube, and it’s removable. Norco’s Road/Asphalt manager Logan Johns says mud will fall off pretty easily and it negates the need for a pulley that can collect mud and crud. They’re removable so you can run it as a 1×10 and remove clutter, or…
The dropouts are replaceable, which means you can break open the rear triangle and run it as a singlespeed. You can also use it with the new Gates CenterTrack belt drive. It’s not shown here because someone at Norco accidentially puttied over the ends of the stays on these display bikes.
One thing we didn’t get to see on the protos at Sea Otter were the paint schemes and color matched details. Check the matching cable ferrules and, on the blue bike, hubs and nipples. Makes for a super sharp package.